Pour Une Nuit?

Twenty-one years ago, Steve and I sold nearly everything we owned, quit our jobs, gave up our apartment in Vancouver, loaded up our Toyota Corolla and hit the road for a few years. After a year traveling in the US, we parked the car, loaded up backpacks and flew to Europe. We arrived with hotel reservations for five nights in Paris and no other plans. We had a fantastic year traveling in Europe.

We traveled using Frommer’s Europe on $50 a Day (this was 1988-89) and used their hotel and restaurant recommendations. This was before the Internet, before cell phones, when a trip to Europe took you away from your life at home and gave little opportunity to get back in touch with it. Our main contact was our accountant who paid our credit card bills. It was an incredible time for us and changed our lives.

Train in Norway, September 1988

After a few months into the trip we were in Norway, where everything was much more expensive than the rest of Europe. We stayed in a budget hotel, as we did on most of the trip, that cost 400 kroner a night for a room without a bathroom. I remember that it was about $100 Canadian dollars a night – almost double what we had been spending. We were hanging out in the hotel lobby (my notes say it was Hotel City in Oslo) and someone buzzed the intercom from the street (you had to buzz up to get into the hotel). They asked if there were rooms available, the desk clerk said yes, they asked the price, the hotel clerk told them. From the speaker came an astonished “Pour une nuit?” For one night? Implying – how can it possibly cost that much for one night? Yes, that was the price per night. They did not check in.

We loved that expression and still use it as one of those secret-shared-experience-couples-language to mean – it costs how much?

Well, now I am saying it. Vacation rentals in Paris cost €1,200 – 2,000 per week and that is “on sale”!!! Pour une nuit?

We are planning a 10 week trip to Europe this summer. We have our flights booked – leaving mid-May and coming home at the beginning of August.  We have our vacation rentals in the Cotswolds booked. A very nice cottage near Burford from Manor Cottages for the first two weeks of June ($770/week ), then a smaller but lovely cottage in Chedworth, rented from the owner, for the next two weeks ($490/week). A total of $2520 for four weeks – expensive, but it is high season. With the pound low against the dollar, the price is pretty good compared to previous years.

Coincidentally the price for a month in the Cotswolds is almost the same as one week in Paris. Maybe this is the year to travel in England because the pound is making it very affordable? A week in Bath, then an extra week in the Cotswolds? A week in Dorset? Paris is going to be crowded at the end of May. In the last few yeas we have avoided the big cities on our Europe trips.

Originally we had planned to spend the first two weeks of the trip in Nice, in southern France, but it was getting complicated and we thought Paris would be easier. The prices of vacation rentals in Nice were pretty good – under $1000/week for nice apartments.

After England we will probably go to Switzerland for four weeks, but that is always affordable because vacation rentals are well priced there and all we do is hike, an inexpensive activity.

Trip planning really does suck up time. I spent days looking at Cotswolds cottages, then more days looking at Nice apartments. Maybe I am just tired of searching.

Looking back through my travel notes from twenty years ago I see that we paid about $100 CDN per night for the hotel in Paris and it was a budget hotel on the outskirts (back when you used a travel agent to book your hotels – we were at the end of the subway line – why would a travel agent do that?). I will have to do some searching to see what Paris hotels cost now.

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

9 thoughts on “Pour Une Nuit?”

  1. Maybe you need to think of somewhere besides Paris (or Nice)? I don’t know France well enough to offer suggestions of where to find great walking paths like in England. Shannon and I really liked the countryside and villages of the Loire Valley and our wonderful VR near Montrichard. But except for strolling our little lane, we ended up driving everywhere. So, no help there. 😉

  2. I was thinking that too, but I think instead we are going to (once again) take the easy way out. A week in Bath (which we love and there is good hiking you can do right from the city center, plus I can do my Jane Austen Lived Here photo essay for Cotswolder) then pickup a car and do another week in the Cotswolds. Maybe even in the cottage in Burford (it is available).

    Then maybe a week in the French countryside before heading to Switzerland in July?

  3. Why doesn’t anyone want to go to Normandy or Brittany in summer? Lots of nice gites there. Buckwheat crepes and Calvados. What’s wrong with that?
    I adore Paris, but not in sticky summer! Even cabbing from one RR station to another is uncomfortable. There’s probably a reason why the song is “April in Paris” instead of “July in Paris”.

  4. I bitched, I complained, I moaned. I declared that I would not go to Paris at these prices! I looked at apartments in Bath, cottages in Somerset, apartments in Nice, vacation rentals in the Loire Valley and the Dordogne. In the end my well-traveled friend Chris convinced me that we would love Paris and it would be worth the price. To entice me she sent me Google Map street views of a vegetarian restaurant in the 5th with a needlework store on the same block. It worked – I sucked it up and booked an apartment with http://www.haveninparis.com.

    After all, Steve has been working on his French for several years (since our last trip to France in 2004) and it is about time that we go to Paris again. Tonight I bought our Eurostar tickets online. I have always wanted to go thru the Chunnel (just kidding, the thought of 30 minutes in a tunnel under an ocean terrifies me).

  5. I know – I feel like we should have gone to Paris 3 years ago and London this summer but who knew? Too bad though that we’re not crossing paths. I can’t wait to hear about your haveninparis.com experience – I looked at some of theirs too and they had some nice stuff.

  6. I had about two days of total panic because of the cost of the week in Paris, then settled down. Now I am really looking forward to it! I wonder how much cheaper London is than Paris now?

    We chose to spend two months in England (a year ago) when the pound peaked against the dollar. It was over $2.00 and is now under $1.50. We had planned to rent a house and spend a year there, but the price of everything was just too much for me and we put it off. Maybe this year things will seem more affordable!

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